Vogue has evolved tremendously since its founding in 1892. In 1973, it became a monthly magazine and underwent a massive change in editorial direction, and in 1988, Anna Wintour became editor. Anna’s influence and talent needs little, if any, introduction or explanation. Her reach is extraordinary. When Vogue initially switched from covers starring supermodels to those with glamorous movie stars, she solidified her status as a visionary leader, especially since the majority of magazines at the time put models on their covers. However, the change from 1988 to today is arguably off-putting and frankly, quite risky. In the past several years in particular, American Vogue seems to be catering primarily to celebrity and fame, merely masked by Oscar de la Renta and Zac Posen garments. By way of its covers, features, and the initiatives it backs, the Vogue of today amounts to a dichotomy of good versus evil...
On the positive side, Wintour remains a leader. She has partnered with the Council of Fashion Designers of America to foster more emerging design talent than ever before, and this is worthy of extremely high praise. Having said this, Vogue is simultaneously and very publicly discrediting itself once a month when it issues a cover with the hottest actress of the moment or the most controversial pop star, or writes a complimentary feature on a dictator’s wife who walks about in Louboutins while children are killed under the order of her husband.
In the past year alone, models have exclusively graced the covers of Vogue’s Italian and French counterparts. [Except for one very recent exception, Kate Upton gracing the cover of Vogue Italia's November issue]. In the U.S., the cover subjects are an array of musicians, actresses and athletes. Rihanna, the singer best known for her plebein, tasteless songs, and factual embodiment and promotion of domestic violence, is gracing her second U.S. Vogue cover this month. All the while, the U.S. editors, who are no longer behind the scenes forces, very publicly side with politicians, feature a certain Sports Illustrated "model" in more than one issue, and have helped turn the front row into a circus consisting of reality television stars, athletes, and B-list celebrities; all the while, directly or indirectly creating a spectacle of U.S. fashion.
This type of focus (or lack thereof) and self-promotion is fundamentally unacceptable for the publication that prides itself as the pinnacle and ultimate curator of American fashion. Vogue is doing the American fashion industry as a whole a disservice. Each time Vogue equates itself with the pedestrian distraction of Hollywood, it further descends from its once-rightful position of ultimate authority. So, despite Vogue’s truly exemplary efforts to promote emerging design, its frivolity reflects poorly on the American fashion industry and robs American designers of the opportunity to truly compete on an international scale. While Vogue is not entirely to blame as its editors are merely responding to the vulgar, celebrity-obsessed culture of the U.S., we expect more from this great magazine and the undeniably talented editors that are there today.
Vogue U.S. clockwise: September, July, February & April covers
Vogue Paris clockwise: September, July, February & April covers
Vogue Italia clockwise: September, July, February & April covers